January 2011

Finger Painting! January 4th 2011

One of Layla’s new favorite art activities is finger painting!  Tentative at first but then goes in with her whole hand!

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Painting with a Paint Brush! January 4th 2011     She also loves to paint using a paint brush!

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Pasta! January 10th 2010                                                                                              We love watching and taking pictures of Layla eating!  Whether it is something she has had many times before, something new or hard to eat she is always fun to watch!  Pasta is especially fun specifically when it is long pasta like spaghetti, linguini or fettuccini!

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Celebrating Papa’s Birthday! January 16th 2011       My Dad’s Birthday is on January 13th but we celebrated on the 16th with family, chicken and eggplant parmesan, and a strawberry shortcake, his favorite!  Layla helped to open his cards and gifts,  helped sing happy birthday and of course she helped Papa blow out the candles on his cake!  Layla loves to help, she loves Papa, and she loves birthdays too!!  Happy 64th Birthday Dad, Papa, Charlie!  We love you!

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Hullabaloo at UTC January 21st 2011                                             Here are just some pictures of Layla at a Hullabaloo concert at UTC.  I was having fun with the camera while she was enjoying the music!

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Blowing me a kiss!

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Shakin’ her shaker!

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Disney on Ice January 29th 2011                                                               One of our favorite family outings is to go see Disney on Ice!  We went to see Let’s Celebrate Disney on Ice on January 29th and we had front row, on the ice seats!  It was a blast!  Layla even got a rose from Minnie Mouse and was the only little girl in the audience who received a rose from Minnie!

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Layla always gets the program as a souvenir!  She loves books and it is a great reminder of the show when we read it!  This time the program came with a very fun Let’s Celebrate party hat!

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A few of Layla’s very favorite characters!  Mickey and Daisy!

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Tapping her little hands on her knees to the music!

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Here she is getting the rose from Minnie Mouse!  What a lucky little girl!  One of the numbers included all of the Disney girls, Minnie, Daisy, and the princesses giving a rose to an audience member.  Minnie skated up to the edge of the ice right in front of our seats and held out a rose!  Layla was lucky enough to be the little girl who got it!

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Showing us her pink rose and a great smile to go with!

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Clapping for a great show!

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What a happy and very lucky little girl!

Planting Basil Seeds! January 30th 2011                                 For Christmas Layla received a set with little pots, a trowel, seeds and soil.  She decided she wanted to plant basil seeds first!  Here she and daddy are planting her seeds!

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December 2010

December was a time for holiday traditions both new and old.

Layla with Santa 

  We took Layla to see Santa at the mall as we do every year, Christmas tree lightings at Legoland and downtown Oceanside, our annual Zavodny Holiday Cocktail Party, Christmas Eve dinner at my parents, taking a drive through Storybook Lane in Rancho Penasquitos to see all of the amazing lights and Christmas decorations,  Del Mar Holiday of Lights, hosting Christmas morning brunch, and our family Christmas dinner.  We did some fun new things too like taking a ride on the Santa Train, decorating a gingerbread house, Disneyland at the Holidays, and the boat parade in the San Diego Harbor.  We had a blast with the new favorite Zavodny Christmas Tradition, The Elf on the Shelf.  After Thanksgiving weekend we took him out, read his book, learned the rules and named him.  Layla chose the name Eli.  So Eli Elf watched Layla each day from a different spot in our house.  He landed somewhere new each morning after his night at the North Pole reporting to Santa the day’s news.  The grown ups had just as much fun if not more than Layla did.  Each night or early morning we got to choose a new spot for Eli, it was fun being creative and trying not to repeat a place for him to hang out for the day.  Eli was also a great motivator for Layla to behave knowing that he would be reporting to Santa later that night!  On Christmas Eve Eli flew back to the North Pole and will return again next year.  Layla has said a few times since Christmas, “Mommy, I miss Eli, but I will see him next Christmas”  The holidays were fun.  The end of December was also a very sad time for our family.  With the passing of Guy and Nicole’s mom Janet.  She was an amazing mother and woman and will be deeply missed.

Oceanside Christmas Tree Lighting December 2, 2010        Every year we attend the Oceanside Christmas Tree Lighting as a family.  This year it was just Layla and I because Guy was traveling.  We had fun listening to the carolers sing Christmas songs, Layla had fun dancing along to some of the songs she knew!  We also enjoyed the tree lighting, cookies and milk and Santa’s arrival on an old fire truck!

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Dancing along to the carolers singing Christmas songs!

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Enjoying cookies and milk after the Christmas Tree Lighting!

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Photos on the old fire truck that Santa arrives on!

Sea World December 3, 2010                                                                              We attended Sea World’s first night of Holiday fun on Friday December 3rd.  We saw all of the Christmas trees decorated, watched people enjoy ice skating, as well as many other fun and special holiday events and of course we enjoyed some rides in Elmo’s Bay of Play!

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Picking Out Our Christmas Tree December 4th    Every year we head to the Home Depot Christmas Tree lot to choose our tree!  This year Layla was able to help us choose our perfect tree!

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This is the one!

The Santa Train December 4th

This year we rode the “Santa Train” which is a special Coaster train ride from the Oceanside Transit Center down to Sorrento Valley.  We shared the day with The Marshall Family, Courtney, Dean & Arden!  On the train we had fun singing Christmas Carols, meeting the Grinch, Santa, and Mrs. Claus!  It was a very fun day!  We will now look forward to an annual ride on the Santa Train.

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Gorgeous and very happy girls!!!  Super cute together always!

Decorating the Tree… December 4th                                     Later that night we decorated our trees.  Layla got to decorate her own little rosemary tree with lights, sea shells and a few pieces from some of her toys.  She got very creative using blocks and puzzles like toy pieces to decorate her very own tree.  Then she was able to keep her little tree in her room on her dresser!  We decorated our tree as well. 

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Lovin’ The Grinch!

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Layla and Bitty Baby in Holiday Jams

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Underwater Pictures December 7th 2010

After a swim lesson one afternoon, Brett said he had to do a make up underwater photo for someone else and would we like to stay in the water and have some photos taken too.  Of coarse we would!!  So Layla had some new underwater swimming photos taken.  We kept it a secret and gave Guy the disc for Christmas.  They turned out great!

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 Legoland During the Holidays December 10th

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The Building and Decorating of Layla’s First Gingerbread House December 11th

This year we decided that Layla was old enough to really enjoy decorating a gingerbread house!  We were right, she had a ball!  She made the frosting with Daddy and helped him to build the walls.  Then she had a lot of fun being creative decorating the house with frosting, candy and sprinkles.

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Making the frosting

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Building the Gingerbread house walls and structure

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and decorating!

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Annual Zavodny Holiday Cocktail Party December 18th Every year we look forward to our very fun, grown up’s only Holiday Cocktail party!

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Disneyland During the Holidays December 20th

After going to Disneyland with Layla for the first time during Halloween we all decided we had to take her back when it would be decorated for Christmas!  It was a wet, cold, and very rainy day but so much fun none-the-less.  If Disneyland at the holidays does not put you in the Christmas spirit then nothing will!  It is absolutely beautiful, the poinsettias, Christmas trees, garland, music, and Christmas spirit are all so heartwarming!  Sleeping Beauty’s castle and It’s a Small World decorated for Christmas alone are enough to get even the biggest Grinch into the Christmas spirit!  We will plan on a holiday trip to Disneyland every year!

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Kidding Around with Arden December 21st               On a rainy day just before Christmas we enjoyed some indoor fun at Kidding Around with Courtney and Arden!

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Del Mar Holiday of Lights December 22nd                     The Del Mar Holiday of Lights at the Del Mar Race Track is another one of our very favorite holiday traditions!  This year we brought Michelle and Joe along for the ride!  We love cruising around the track and oohing and ahhing at all of our favorite light displays!  Layla loves that she can sit up in the front of the car for the ride around the track!

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Christmas Presents and Sea World with Carson December 23rd

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Making Christmas Sugar Cookies December 23 This year we made sugar cut out cookies and Layla had fun helping!  She helped make the dough, roll out the dough, cut out the cookies and finally decorate them!  I think by the end she and Louis had more flour on them than on the board where we rolled out the cookies!

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 Christmas Eve 2010                                        We always spend Christmas Eve at my parent’s house for a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner.  Dinner was fabulous as always!  Layla had fun opening more presents and loved that Nanny came home and spent the night with us at our house on Christmas Eve.

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Before we left for Christmas Eve dinner we took Layla’s “Thank You” note photo.  Here she is all dressed up in front of our Christmas Tree on Christmas eve!!  What a cutie!

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One of the most special gifts Layla received was a prerecorded book in Papa’s voice, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Now she will be able to listen to Papa read to her every Christmas whether she is sitting on his lap or not!

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Auntie Karen and Uncle Marty got her a set of Pajamas that match her Bitty Baby’s everyday pajamas.  They both look adorable when they are both wearing them.

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Nanny gave Layla cash!  We put it towards swimming lessons!

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Nanny and Layla snuggling at the dinner table on Christmas Eve.

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The best gift ever!!

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Layla with her Nonna and Papa.

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Layla and Papa

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Layla and Daddy

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Layla, Daddy and Mommy

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Layla and Nonna

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Layla, Nonna, and Papa

Christmas Morning 2010

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Snuggling with Nanny on Christmas morning!

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The walk out to the living room to see the Christmas tree!

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Louis had to give Layla some good morning, Merry Christmas kisses!

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Seeing the tree and the presents Santa left!

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Layla asked Santa for a Jessie doll from Toy Story.  Santa came through and left it out and unwrapped for her to see right away!  He also left her a hot pink plasma car!

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After noticing the Christmas tree she went to her Christmas stocking…

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where she found Donald Duck (who she also asked Santa for) and Boots hanging out of the top!

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Opening our stockings on Christmas morning.  Nanny, Nicole, Layla and I.

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We decided to have her open a certain gift first because she had asked Santa for it and would not stop asking where it was!  She asked for a Belle, from Beauty and the Beast.  Michelle and Joe got it for her and had it at their house, they were going to give it to her that night at Christmas dinner and say Santa left it at their house for her.  Since she would not stop asking where Belle was, she got to open her set of Beauty and the Beast figurines.  She was stoked she got her Belle and stopped asking!  She would have been happy with just the three things she asked Santa for, a Bell, a Jessie, and a Donald Duck, but is that where it stopped? NO, the present opening went on and on for hours and hours!  Blocks, Buzz, Woody, a La La Loopsy Doll, Food for her play kitchen, clothes, princess dress up dresses, princess slippers, stuffed animals, games, a sleeping bag, a doll house that is more like a doll mansion with dolls to live in it…..

We enjoyed a beautiful morning opening gifts and sipping cappuccinos and mimosas followed by a delicious brunch of cinnamon rolls, quiche, potatoes, fruit salad surrounded by our amazing family!  Guy and I would like to thank my dad and Donna, Nicole, and Nanny for making Christmas morning a very special morning for Layla!   After hosting Christmas Eve dinner I know it is not easy to come over early and my dad and Donna do it every year, thank you.  Nanny, thank you very much for coming and spending Christmas eve at our house so you could wake up and watch Layla open her presents.  It was so special to have you here.  Nicole, thank you for always being here and sharing all of Layla’s special moments, she is so lucky to have you!

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Opening presents with Nanny.

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Dad, Donna, Nanny, Nicole, Layla and I on Christmas morning.

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Dad, Donna, and Nanny.

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Nicole, Mommy and Layla.

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Watching Nonna and Papa, Nanny, and Ahta open their framed pictures of Layla.

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Unwrapping the big box the sleeping bag came in.

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Snuggling in the new personalized sleeping bag!

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In awe of the new doll mansion from Nonna and Papa complete with elevator, flushing toilet, a piano that plays music, and light that lights!

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Later on during the day as we were getting ready to leave for our Christmas dinner festivities Uncle Marky and Auntie Jolie stopped by!  They brought Layla wonderful gifts too!  Thank you for being so thoughtful we love you both!

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Christmas Night 2010                                  When we got to Christmas dinner at Karen and Marty’s there were more presents to open!  Uncle Joe and Auntie Michelle got her every princess in the Disney collection!  She got wonderful books from Diana and Lauren, a super cute purple sock monkey and the Hungry Caterpillar game from the Capuozzos in Texas, Steven, Kristen, Ellery and Hayden, and some super cute clothes and high top sneakers from The Sassano’s, Linda, Joe, Alicia, and Jocelyn.  A huge thank you to all of our amazing family and friends, you spoil our daughter!  She is a very fortunate little girl to be surrounded by so many people that love her so very much.

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Opening a princess with Auntie Michelle.

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Layla opening a princess from Auntie Michelle and Uncle Joe!

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Layla opening yet another princess from Michelle and Joe.

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All fancy in her pretty party dress Nonna got her!

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Guy and Nicole, eggnog and a beer!!  Just how Christmas should be!

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Joe and Lauren

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Eric and Dosi

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The Zavodnys and the Ross’

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Nanny and Diana

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Donna and Diana

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Diana and Guy

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Guy and Joe

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Nonna and Layla

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Layla and Mommy

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Nanny and I

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4 generations

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Layla and Nanny

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The Zavodnys

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Layla and “Ahta” (Auntie Nicole)

Layla’s Half Birthday 2  1/2                       Every Christmas marks Layla’s half birthday, so I make half of a red velvet cake.  This year, I put two and a half  candles on it and we sing happy birthday to Layla!  Silly, I know, but a fun half birthday tradition none-the-less!  I mean you only turn two and a half once right!  And it being on Christmas when you are surrounded by your loved ones makes it even more of a reason to celebrate!   Look at the desert spread, our family knows how to eat!

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What better way to celebrate your half birthday than to be able to blow out your candles with your Nonna and Nanny! (Grandma and Great Grandma)

Janet Louise Zavodny

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On December 29th our family lost and amazing woman who will be truly missed.  Janet you are always in our hearts, thoughts and will forever be the standard by which all cheesecakes, crème Brulees and most other deserts are measured!  You will remain the Queen and the Mayor in our hearts forever!  I am so grateful that Layla had the opportunity to know her Grandma J and will always be sad that she did not know the absolutely amazing, vibrant, strong woman, mother and survivor that the rest of us knew! 

New Year’s Eve at Legoland December 31st                On New Year’s Eve ‘the team” (Guy, Nicole, Layla, and I) celebrated an early midnight at Legoland California.  Legoland has a great New Year’s Eve celebration for kids.  There were stilt walkers, live all kids music bands, a count down, and fireworks!  We celebrated New Years at 6pm with Layla at Legoland, picked up pizza and salad and were home in our sweats by 7pm where we put Layla to bed and played a mean game of Monopoly until the real midnight rolled around!  It was a very fun way to spend a New Year’s eve!  May 2011 be better to all than 2010.

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Happy New Year!

November 2010

November was another busy month!  Guy’s Birthday, a trip to Chicago, Thanksgiving, my Birthday and the start of the Christmas holiday festivities!

Guy’s Birthday! November 8th 2010

We celebrated Guy’s Birthday with presents in the morning before he went to work, one when Layla and I met him to take him to sushi for lunch and more when he got home, and a fun dinner at Benihana with friends and family!

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Early morning presents!

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After work presents!

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and even a cake from the Carroll’s next door!

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Benihanna with Michelle and Joe, Nicole, and Dave T.  Thank you all for celebrating Guy’s Birthday and making it a special day!

Our Trip to Chicago November 10th through 16th

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The leaves were changing and they were beautiful!!

Guy had to attend a trade show in Chicago and needed to work for only one day so Layla and I tagged along.  We made a great 6 day trip out of it and saw and did a ton!  We also ate very well while we were there!  It was perfect flip flop and t-shirt weather the day after we arrived but that was it for the  California friendly weather, after the first day it got REALLY COLD (for us) but we had a blast!

The first day we were there November 11th we walked along Michigan Ave. and through Grant Park, we went to The Field Museum and to the American Girl store.

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Layla running along Grant Park on our way to The Field  Museum of Natural History to see Sue!

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Layla and Daddy cruising through Grant Park!  It was a beautiful day for a walk!

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Layla and Mommy in Grant Park.

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Our beautiful little girl!

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More beautiful fall foliage, something we do not get much of in Southern California!

The Field Museum of Natural History

The Field Museum was awesome.  There was a wonderful children’s area as we first entered.  We spent time playing, exploring and learning! 

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Layla dressed up as a skunk and pretended to live in the forest.  Mommy joined in for some of the fun too!

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After spending time as a woodland creature Layla ran through a “corn field.”

Next, we went into the arts and crafts room.  We wrote what Layla said she was thankful for on a construction paper feather.  She said, “I am thankful for Mommy, Daddy, Layla, My Peeps, and My Doggies.”  So that is what we wrote!  The feather was then placed up on the wall on a giant turkey!

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After exploring the children’s area of the museum we entered the rest of the museum and saw Sue right away!  She is awe inspiring!  She is a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, you can not miss her!  She measures 13 feet at the hip.  One interesting thing we learned about Sue is that the head or skull on the body is a replica, Sue’s actual skull is displayed upstairs because at 600 pounds it is too heavy to display on the skeleton.

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Here is Sue’s real head!  There was all sorts of amazing and very interesting information learned about Sue because of her skull, how it was found and the markings found upon it!  I LOVE MUSEUMS, seeing and learning all sorts of interesting facts about our world!

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Layla standing between two totems from the Pacific North West.

American Girl Place: Chicago! 

We cannot go to a city with an American Girl Doll store and not go shopping!  We got all sorts of outfits for Bity Baby, who of course made the trip to Chicago with us because The American Girl Place was on the itinerary!  The store was all decked out for Christmas (as was every store and window) which made it really fun!  Layla also chose to get the baby bag for Bity Baby which had extra Bity Baby diapers, wipes, a changing pad, pretend diaper cream, a sippy cup and a rattle!  Layla was entertained for the rest of the trip in the hotel room changing Bity Baby’s diaper!  It is so fun to go to a store that caters to little girls with Layla and Daddy.  Guy rolls his eyes at all of the silly Bity Baby gear but loves it and can’t say not to Layla or I!  We are two very lucky girls!

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Navy Pier!

Our second day in Chicago was filled with a day at Navy Pier,  Crystal Gardens, The Chicago Children’s Museum, Lunch at the Purple Pig, Shopping, and dinner with a Wisconsin friend at Gino’s East for Chicago style deep dish pizza!

BURRRR!  Layla all bundled up for a brisk Chicago morning!

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Navy Pier

Chicago’s Navy Pier was a super fun way to spend the morning!  We rode on the Ferris Wheel and the carrousel and enjoyed the views of Lake Michigan and the beautiful Chicago skyline!

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Waiting with Daddy to get on the Ferris wheel.

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That is a genuine smile (mine) but not because I enjoy riding on a Ferris Wheel but because I am sharing an experience with Layla.  I actually despise Ferris Wheels but am willing to temporarily overcome my fear and dislike of them for Layla.  This one was particularly scary because of many reasons, it was gigantic and went VERY high, it was not totally enclosed, on a pier over very cold water and had an amazing yet eerie view of the Chicago skyline which made you feel even higher up that you really were!Halloween & Chicago Oct Nov 2010 121

Guy does not mind a Ferris Wheel ride, especially one with Layla!

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The view in one direction from the Ferris Wheel.

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Our little family safely back on land after the Ferris Wheel ride!

I much prefer a carrousel!  Layla also loves the carrousel!

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Crystal Gardens

Just inside the Buildings the the land end of Navy Pier is Crystal Gardens.  A huge indoor tropical garden with dancing water spouts and beautiful tropical plants.Halloween & Chicago Oct Nov 2010 144

Layla with water jumping in spurts over her head!

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Time for a snack….

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and some dancing!

The Chicago Children’s Museum

Also next door to Navy Pier and Crystal Gardens is the Chicago Children’s Museum.  Whenever we are in a city with Layla that has a Children’s Museum we try to go.  This was a wonderful Children’s Museum we had a blast!

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Driving into the museum with daddy!

Layla the Archeologist! Digging up Dinosaurs bones!  This was an awesome exhibit complete with rubber “dirt” archeologist vests, brushes and any other tool you would need to excavate as an archeologist.   Then under the little rubber pieces were dinosaur skeletons to discover and clean off!

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Layla also enjoyed the huge flower garden,

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a giant comfy couch,

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building what she named, “Layla Land,”

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putting on a puppet show,

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and playing some music with the maracas,

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All bundled up after our very busy morning!

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After Navy Pier, Crystal Gardens, and the Children’s Museum Layla was tired!  Sooo…. 

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I enjoyed a big beer while Guy and I waited to be seated at The Purple Pig!  We ended up wearing Layla out in the morning and early afternoon most days and were able to enjoy a long leisurely late lunch/early dinner at really nice restaurants while she slept soundly in the stroller!  We also ate some pretty great meals with her awake too!  We did not dumb down any meals or forgo any restaurants on our list because she was with us!  The first night we got there we ate at Publican which was one of Guy’s favorites, we also ate at and saw Rick Bayless (of Top Chef Master)  Frontera Grill, The Purple Pig, Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef’s The Girl and the Goat, Gino’s East for Chicago style deep dish pizza, and Al’s Italian Beef for an Italian Beef Sandwich for Guy.  I was also able to enjoy Chicago style hot dogs with tomatoes and pickles from cart vendors because Chicago hot dog vendors are vegetarian friendly!   Guy was also tweeting with Rick Bayless about where to eat and we ate at a killer Chinese restaurant and Greek restaurant upon his recommendations.  Chicago is a wonderful food town!  Being the foodies that we are, good food was a priority on the Chicago itinerary!  We can’t wait to go back and eat (and drink) our way through Chicago again!

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Us at The Girl and the Goat with Stephanie Izard!

Seeing Friends from Wisconsin

A long time friend of mine from my middle and high school days in Wisconsin, her husband (who we also went to high school with) and her daughter drove to Chicago to join us for dinner at Gino’s East.  It was wonderful to see Jen, Jolie, and Rich.  Thank you for driving out to see us!

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Layla and Jolie

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Jen and Myself

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The girls

The Chicago Science and Industry Museum

On our third day in the City, November 13th, we went to the Science and Industry Museum which was highly recommended by a family friend who lived in Chicago.  Yes, she was right it was amazing and a must see!  Planes, trains, automobiles, castles (Layla’s favorite), tractors, a “working”coal mine (my favorite), hatching chicks, and an ice cream parlor! 

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When our cab dropped us off out front we could not help but notice the HUGE Scooby Doo balloon!  People were practicing for the Thanksgiving parade.

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Layla trying to catch the crazy floating ball!

The Science and Industry Museum also had a great children’s exploration area!

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Layla = small, tractor wheel = big!

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Feelin’ a little mid west with tractors and cows!

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An old trolley car.

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Watching baby chicks hatch was pretty wild!

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What is a day at the museum without a stop at an old fashioned ice cream parlor!

The Art Institute of Chicago

On November 14th we woke up and spend the morning at the Chicago Art Institute!  Art museums have to be one of my absolute favorite places on the planet!  I hope Layla loves, appreciates, and looks forward to them as much as I do someday!  We saw an amazing collection of impressionist works!  The museum’s reputation rests primarily on its collection of impressionist and post impressionist paintings which is one of the largest and most important outside France.  We saw Van Gogh, Pissaro, Gauguin, Monet, and Seurat which Layla recognized from her book Katie’s Sunday Afternoon  She pointed at A Sunday on La Grand Jatte by Georges Seurat and said “look Mommy it’s Katie’s Day at the Museum!”

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Layla and one of the big lions outside of the Chicago Art Institute!

The Shedd Aquarium

On the day Guy had to work November 15th, Layla and I went to the Shedd Aquarium.  I had heard and read that it was a must see.  I was skeptical because we have such amazing aquariums in southern California, which is actually next to an ocean.  I was saying to myself, “How great can an aquarium in Chicago really be?”  Well it was amazing, like Sea World and our aquarium combined!   It is the worlds largest indoor aquarium!  We saw a show with dolphins, beluga whales and hawks.  There were sea lions, otters, and tanks and tanks of fish, sea creatures, rays, sharks, and even sea turtles!  The highlight for me was watching a baby beluga nurse from its mother, that was one of the absolutely most heart warming things I have ever seen!  The photo is very blurry probably because I was so excited but I will post it anyway!  The aquarium is located right on Lake Michigan.  The indoor amphitheater where we saw the show was like a zero edge pool/tank.  It was made so the water in the tank  just kept right on going into the lake.  It was a very cool Aquarium and we would definitely visit again if we are ever in Chicago!

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Blurry yet still pretty amazing, mama beluga nursing her baby!  The photo does not do it justice!

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There was a wonderful children’s area with all sorts of hands on activities.  Dressing up like penguins,  enjoyed the statues, everything she could touch, and all of the buttons she got to push!

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My little penguin!  Layla got to dress up like a penguin an waddle around and down a slide belly first just like penguins do!

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The view outside of the museum.

A Long Walk Back to the Hotel With Lots to Stop and See

Layla and I walked along the lake on our way back to the hotel.  I knew I wanted to stop and see the Buckingham Fountain but did not realize we would see so many other great sights along the way!  We crossed over the BP Bridge, saw Cloud Gate also known as “the bean”

The Buckingham Fountain

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Layla in front of The Buckingham Fountain.

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The Buckingham Fountain was unfortunately drained, which they do at the beginning of November, we missed it by only a few days.  The fountain is huge, modeled after a fountain at the Palace of Versailles, but this one is nearly twice the size and may be why I do not remember seeing it when I was at Versailles.  It was magnificent without water pluming from it I can only imagine how cool it would be to see it working!  It had huge carving of sea shells and sea weed and 4 giant sea horses!  I hope to see it working someday!

The BP Bridge

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The BP Bridge was super cool!  A huge meandering stainless steel bridge!Chicago Sm Cam 044

Cloud Gate aka the Bean

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Cloud Gate is a super cool kidney bean shaped sculpture by Anish Kapoor has amazing reflections of the city skyline and the crowds of people around it.  It was fun to take lots of pictures of us in the refection!

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On our walk back through the city to our hotel, Layla and I even walked around the block where Macy’s was so we could look at all of the amazing windows decorated for Christmas!  Then we went inside to see the Macy’s Christmas tree!  It was phenomenal!  There was even a fairy princess who blew fairy dust on Layla!

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The historical Landmark clock hanging outside of Macy’s

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On of the very cool windows decorated with moving parts telling a Christmas story about believing in the magic of Christmas!   The photo is not great but the window was!

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Macy’s Christmas tree!  Again, the photo is not great but the tree was!

Silly Layla!

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What’s a vacation without turning yourself into a mummy with toilet paper in the hotel room bathroom!!  At least she was having fun and going potty on the big girl potty!

The Sears Tower

On our last day in Chicago, November 16th, the only thing left on my list of things I really had to see was the Sears Tower.  Which is still the tallest building in The United States and was it high up there!

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There were these window boxes with see through floors that stuck out of the side of the building!  Yikes!!  Guy and Layla had no problem stepping out onto them.  Layla was even jumping up and down, which made my heart stop! I, on the other hand could not quite go all the way out on it!  I had to hold on to the solid wall in order to even step out onto it!  I was not comfortable but glad I did it! 

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Layla is absolutely fearless!

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I am a different story when it comes to heights!

Goodbye Chicago!

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Makin’ Orange Juice November 17, 2010

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WHAT???  Doesn’t everyone make their homemade orange juice pants-less??

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Oceanside Turkey Trot November 25, 2010

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On the morning of Thanksgiving I ran the Oceanside Turkey Trot.  It is an annual 5k run I had done it once before and was excited to run it again this year.  Guy, Layla, Louie and I walked down to the start at the Oceanside Civic Center Library!  It was fun to have them cheer me on at both the start and the finish line!

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The last time I ran the Turkey Trot I was training hard and running a lot!  I was in much better shape.  So with that being said, my goal was to run the whole thing.  I did it, my time was not comparable to the last time but I ran the whole thing and reached my goal!  Looking forward to next year!  Hopefully Guy and Layla will join me in the race!

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Nice, Dad, real nice!!!  Happy Thanksgiving to you too!!  Only my Dad!

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Diana, Myself and Nicole

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Dad at the grill and me with my champagne!

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Me and my amazing parents!

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Layla and Jocelyn

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Our little family!  Amazing sunset at my parents on Thanksgiving too!

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“The Team”

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The girls

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Smooches for Layla

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The girls

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My family and my parents!

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Nonna and her girl

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Ahta and Layla hugs

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Daddy and Layla hugs

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Nanny, Layla and I

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Papa, Layla and I

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Papa, Layla, Myself, and Nonna

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Guy always gets the job of turkey carver on Thanksgiving!  He enjoys his job but ends up full before he sits down to dinner!  He looks like he is having a great time!

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Nanny Lucy and Eileen, the best of friends

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Layla enjoying her Thanksgiving feast

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Bottoms up Dosi!

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Diana and Guy

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Layla performing her rendition of “I’m a Little Turkey”

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Hugs and kisses for Shad!  So cute!

Happy Birthday to Me!


This year Thanksgiving fell on the day before my Birthday.  My Dad and Donna made sure to make it very special with the entire family by having an ice cream cake candles and everyone sing “Happy Birthday”  Layla was covered with blue frosting!

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It has become a tradition for Nicole, Layla and I to attend the Legoland Christmas tree lighting every year during the holidays.  The entire tree and all of the ornaments are made out of Legos.  As is Santa, and his Sleigh, reindeer, and snowmen!  After the tree lighting there are fire works and then the grand finale is that it snows, a very rare occurrence in Carlsbad, California!

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Layla in Santa’s Sleigh

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Layla and Ahta in Santa’s sleigh

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Mommy and Layla with Santa in his Sleigh

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All of the Z girls with Santa!

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Layla and a Lego snowman.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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Layla and Ahta enjoying the snowfall
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Mommy and Layla in the snow!

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Layla and the Legoland Christmas tree!  Happy beginning of the Holiday Season!

Layla’s First Trip to Disneyland

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On October 21st 2010 we took Layla to Disneyland for the first time!  It was a wonderful and magical day at the Happiest Place on Earth!  Of course as we walked in we had to get the classic family photo in front of the big Mickey!

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As soon as we walked into the area as Main Street USA starts we ran into Minnie Mouse in her Halloween outfit and had to wait for a photo.  Layla talked about seeing Minnie Mouse for weeks!  It was so magical to share this experience with her!  She was elated and filled with pure joy the entire day!

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Layla was going to be Tink for Halloween so we had to pose in front of the Tink Jack-O-Lantern!

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The girls in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, another classic photo spot!

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One of my absolute favorite rides at Disneyland has always been Peter Pan.  This was our first ride with Layla, she wanted to sit next to Mommy since it is my favorite, she loved it!

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Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is always fun!

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Who doesn’t want to take a picture in a giant Tea Cup?

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We HAD to get her the classic pink hat with ears and her name embroidered on the back!

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Daddy and Layla smiling their way through Fantasy Land!

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It’s a Small World, another absolute classic Disneyland ride!  You can’t go on it without smiling!

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Everyone’s a kid at Disneyland!

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Next, we waited to see the princesses at the Princess Fantasy Faire.  It was a long wait but well worth it and a must with a little princess!  There were three princesses there that day and Layla was in absolute awe!

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First we saw Ariel, The Little Mermaid!

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Next, big hugs for Snow White.  And finally…

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As Layla ran up to her she said, “OH MY GOSH!!  IT’S CINDERELLA!!!”  it was the sweetest thing in the world!  She even got to spend time sitting on Cinderella’s lap!

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Dumbo, which she rode on with Daddy, another absolute classic!

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Layla loves a carrousel and King Arthur’s Carousel was no different!  She was all smiles as she waved to Daddy!

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She certainly tried to pull the sword out of the stone!  To no avail, she is a princess not the king!

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Daddy in the ears!

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The Tea Cups with Mommy and Daddy!

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Getting ready to go on Alice and Wonderland with Ahta! (this has become her favorite ride at Disneyland)

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We saw Sleeping Beauty by her castle on our way to pick out Layla’s souvenir.  She chose a big Mickey Mouse, a perfect choice for a first trip to Disneyland!

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The Winnie the Pooh ride!

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and hugs from Pooh himself!

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This was well past nap time!  Snuggled up in the BOB with Mickey!  But then of course she rallied and got her second wind!

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Buzz Blasters, the grown ups love this ride!  A little healthy competition!

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We got a perfect spot for the parade, got Layla in her new Minnie Mouse pajamas, and had ice cream!  Sounds like the right way to end the day!

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Up on Daddy’s shoulders in awe, at the start of the parade!

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She was so excited that she got to see all of her “guys”

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Donald and Daisy

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and the big cheese himself, Mickey Mouse! (and many more)

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Layla even got to join the parade and be  in the conga line with Ahta!

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It was a very fun day filled with magical memories!  Layla was a trooper, she even braved the Haunted Mansion, it was decorated for the Nightmare before Christmas, the Pirates of the Caribbean, and Snow White.  She was never afraid and is now a Disney fanatic!  It was wonderful to see the park decorated for Halloween!  We planed our next trip for when it was decorated for Christmas!  Thank you Magical Kingdom, you truly are the Happiest Place on Earth!

October 2010

October was a very fun month.  We had a blast doing all things Halloween, a Disney on Ice show, and even took Layla to Disneyland for the first time!

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Cousin Night Bowling &Karaoke October 1st

The cousins joined together for a super fun night of bowling, Karaoke, and even a hair cut for Joe!

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Octoberfest at Holiday Park October 2nd

A now family tradition ( I guess it can be called one when it has happened for more than two years in a row) is the Carlsbad Octoberfest at Holiday Park!  This year Layla was able to jump on the jumpies, slide down the giant slide, and dance the Chicken Dance with Mommy, Ahta, and friends!


Here she is sliding down one of the giant slides!  Wheee…



Little Layla Scientist!  Trying on Michelle’s glasses and looking very studious!

Pedicure’s by Mommy

Layla loves a pedicure!

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Hangin’ with my Peeps

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Making desert with Uncle Dave T.

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Uncle Dave is such a trooper he even combs her hair after her bath!

Halloween Party at Dance Studio

A friend of Layla’s invited her to a Halloween party put on by the dance studio where she takes lessons!  They all wore their costumes (Layla was Tinker Bell) and danced around to songs like the “Monster Mash”  then of course there were treats!

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Mmmm cookies!

Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch October 9th

Our annual trip to Bates Nut Farm to choose pumpkins at the pumpkin patch was a success!  Layla chose her own pumpkin, rode in the wheel barrow full of pumpkins, posed for a ton of pictures and even enjoyed a pony ride!

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Here’s our haul at the end the day!  Daddy was even getting a refill in the keg at Stone on the way home!  What more could you ask for in a day!

Disney on Ice October 9th

On the same evening at Bates Nut Farm the girls went to Disney on Ice.  Nona, Layla, Ahta and I all had a super fun time sitting right on the ice in our front row seats to see all of our favorite Disney characters.  Now we are spoiled and will not see an “on ice show” without being front row!  It is so worth it!

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Round Table Pizza October 15th

Making pizzas with Nona at Round Table is one of Layla’s favorite things to do!  She is getting very good at it, she puts on the sauce, cheese and toppings with very little help!

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and toppings.  Some for the pizza…

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and some for Layla!

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then into the oven it goes!

Kickin’ Back….

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and Lookin’ Cute!

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Shannon’s Dirty 30 Halloween Birthday Bash

Our Neighbor and friend Shannon turned 30 and decided to have a Halloween party!  I have always wanted to dress up at early Madonna for a costume party!


Butt Crack Baby

Her jeans are a littel too low rise but it’s a good thing that day she put her panites on backwards!!


Sea World Spooktackular with Ahta

Guy and I were able to get away for a night down at the Catamaran in Pacific Beach, massages, and a nice dinner at World Famous while Layla went to Sea World’s Spooktacular with Ahta!


Brick or Treat at Legoland

There are so many fun Halloween things to do in October in San Diego!  We took advantage of as many as we could!  Brick or Treat at Legoland was one of the most fun things we did!  Dressed up in her Tinker Bell costume we were able to Trick or Treat down the Brick or Treat path at Legoland!  We even went on a few of our favorite rides after gathering up our treats!

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Up, up, up on the helicopters with Daddy!

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and a day at Legoland is not complete without a ride on the Story Brook boat ride!

Halloween 2010

We were lucky enough to host a wonderful Halloween night at our home!  We had friends and family, food and an adorable little Tinker bell!  The best part of the night was watching Layla cruising down our block trick-or-treating with an entourage of, I’d say about 10 of her peeps following behind her!  What a lucky little girl!

We started our Halloween evening by carving our pumpkins into Jack-O-Lanterns!  Layla was not to into how yucky and gooey her hands got when she was pulling the insides out of the pumpkin!

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It’s the Great Pumpkin                                    Layla Grace!                                                               

Every year of Layla’s little life so far we have gotten a huge pumpkin (they keep getting larger every year) for her to climb into!  Why?  Well, for the photo opportunities of course!  Here is everyone inside of Layla’s giant pumpkin!

In the Giant Pumpkin!

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Daddy got in with Layla because she wasn’t so sure about climbing into that big thing this year!  Ahta (Auntie Nicole as Pinocchio) climbed in, even Nanny gave it a go!  And a few days after Halloween when the inside was nasty, right before the giant pumpkin went out to the trash we finally talked Layla into climbing into the giant pumpkin!  Silly traditions!

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Would any Halloween night be3 complete without Nanny helping Layla fill her pink piggy bank?


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Strike a Pose Tink!

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Passing Out Candy

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We did not go too far or make too many stops, just the neighbors we know on our short block and around the corner!  First stop was next door at the Carroll’s where Ella was dressed up as Nemo.  Next we went across the street to Katie’s where she was passing out regular sized candy bars to the kids on our block!  (Guy and I chose a Snickers:)  Then to Aleksandra and Ron’s!

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Hugs for Nemo!

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Home from Trick-or-Treating!

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Loving on my Peeps!  Thank you to all who came and made Halloween special for us and for Layla!  We love you all!